In a 2-1 decision this morning in the Shelby County case, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the continued constitutionality of section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
Writing for the majority, Judge Tatel said:
In Northwest Austin, the Supreme Court signaled that the extraordinary federalism costs imposed by section 5 raise substantial constitutional concerns. As a lower federal court urged to strike this duly enacted law of Congress, we must proceed with great caution, bound as we are by Supreme Court precedent and confined as we must be to resolve only the precise legal question before us: Does the severe remedy of preclearance remain ‘congruent and proportional’? The legislative record is by no means unambiguous. But Congress drew reasonable conclusions from the extensive evidence it gathered and acted pursuant to the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, which entrust Congress with ensuring that the right to vote - surely among the most important guarantees of political liberty in the Constitution - is not abridged on account of race. In this context, we owe much deference to the considered judgment of the People’s elected representatives.
The constitutionality of Section 5 was bifurcated in the voter id lawsuit and would only be addressed if and when the DC court held that the Texas voter id law violated Section 5. The state of Texas in effect has the burden of proving that the Texas voter id law did not affect minority voting rights and Texas is going to have a hard time meeting that burden without having Section 5 declared unconstitutional
This is great news but means that the SCOTUS will be looking at Section 5 in the next session